The first human traces in the Austrian Alps are linked to the salt mines and mines of Hallstatt and Götschenberg near Bischofshofen and of Kelchalpe in Kitzbühel; but even before the Roman colonization the iron of Noricum and the gold of the High Tauern were known. Many local names indicate the medieval flourishing of the alpine mining industry, of copper, silver and iron, which had its maximum splendor between the century. XV and XVI, while then declined especially after the century. XVIII
Today’s mining areas are limited to the north-eastern zone of the crystalline and shale mid-Alps, which contain the richest deposits of iron and copper, while copper and zinc are also found in the Triassic limestones of Tyrol and in the Drava Valley. The limestones of the lower Triassic of the northern pre-Alpine area contain the saline deposits of the Salzkammergut. At the bottom of the major eastern valley basins and on the edge of the northern and eastern foothills, there are deposits of lignite and peat, while high-content fossil coals are at various geological horizons, but in too little quantity. On the other hand, there is a lack of mineral products beyond the Danube on the slopes of Šumava. Overall, however, Austria can be said to be poor in minerals; only iron is there in large quantities,
The total production of Austrian iron ore, whose heavy industry has been developing for about 50 years, was 713,800 tons in 1924, compared to 1,760,000 tons in 1915 (Italy, 1925, 472,000 tons), which occupied 3397 workers. In normal times the Austrian industry could reach 2 million tons and make Austria completely independent from abroad for its internal needs, if it did not lack coal for the reduction of iron ore. The greatest center of iron extraction is in the Styrian Erzberg, where in an area of 80 km. of radius, in the valleys of the Mur, Mürz, Steyr, Enns, Ybbs, Erlauf and Traisen, the major iron-manganesiferous deposits meet, which give 4/5 of the production of all of Austria; the ore is reduced in the high furnaces of Hieflau, Eisenerz, Vordernberg, Trofaiach and Donawitz on the eastern side of the Eisenerz Alps; of these, however, only three were in operation in 1924. The Österreichische Alpinen-Montan Gesellschaft, which exploits these deposits, also owns those of Upper Carinthia in Hüttenberg on the western side of the Sau Alpe, and there are also some other small mines in the Lower Austria and Salzburg, but of low production.
The hard coal, indispensable for the steel industry, is instead very scarce in Austria and in 1915 76,358 tons were dug. in Lower Austria, which increased to 168,000 tons. in 1924, with 13 active mines, to which 4000 tons must be added. of two other mines in Upper Austria. For Austria 2006, please check computergees.com.
More important are the lignite and peat deposits, with a total of 77 mines and a production of 2,785,800 tons. in 1924, against 209,300 in 1915. Styria also concentrates almost 60% of all Austrian production for these deposits, with 4 lignite mines. Upper Austria also has a small production of lignite, especially in the mines of the Hausruck, but mainly has small peat quarries (about 12), in the interglacial deposits of the plateau. However, although exploitation has been intensified, these fuels only cover a small part (about 1/7) of Austria’s total annual needs.
Lead and zinc have a certain importance in Austrian mining production, the production of which has increased considerably since the pre-war period (tonnes 13,702 in 1915, tonnes 713,800 in 1924); the deposits are found mainly in Carinthia, in the Gail valley, at the foot of the Villach Alps; already known in Roman times and exploited from the century. XI, contain 85% lead content. They are followed by the small mines of Imst, Nassereith and Lermoos in Tyrol. Copper, on the other hand, is excavated only to a certain extent (73,000 tons) in Salzburg and Tyrol (10,600 tons).
Of the precious metals, silver is found only as a very secondary by-product of lead and copper; but after the war the excavations of the gold ore on the High Tauern (near Gastein and Greifenburg in Salzburg), already abandoned by the century, resumed. XV, obtaining, in 1924, tonn. 5300 of gold material, with low metal content. Austria dug, in 1924, tonn. 28,000 of sulphurous rocks, compared to 1700 in the pre-war period, almost all in Styria, 7800 tons were also extracted. of magnesite, especially in Eichberg near Semmering and in Upper Styria.
One of the oldest mineral products in Austria is salt known and excavated since prehistoric times: it is found mainly in the Salzkammergut (Hallstatt, Hallein, Bad Ischl), from where it was exported in the Middle Ages to Bohemia and Germany. Today Upper Austria, which includes the saline district of Salzkammergut, obtains 2,190,000 hl. of mother liquors, while 700,000 hl. are obtained from Styria to Admont and Mariazell: altogether q. 553.892 of fine salt and q. 219,440 of salt for animals; q are also excavated. 27,400 of rock salt.
Also linked to the geognostic conditions of the soil are the salt baths of Bad Ischl, Aussee and Hallein and the iodine baths of Hall (Upper Austria), the radioactive baths of Gastein (Salzburg, 12 °, 5-49 °, 6), the sulphurous ones of Tobelbad (Graz, 25 ° -28 °), Baden (25 ° -30 °) and Vöslau (24 °) in Lower Austria. Arsenical springs are found in Obladis and Prutz (upper Inn valley), ferrous in Einöd near the Neumarkt saddle, and alkaline in Preblau (Lavant valley).
The electric use of hydraulic forces, although it began after that in Switzerland and Northern Italy, had over 375 power plants in 1913, for a total of 170,150 HP., Increased to 200,000 in 1920, used both for local lighting and for motive power.. However, these were mainly small and medium-sized power plants, not exceeding 20 million kw. yearly; now, however, large power plants have been built and designed, especially in the basins of the Inn, Enns, Ybbs, Mur and the Danube, which will be able to give, for the whole of Austria, about 2,500,000 HP. installed per year, with a saving of approximately 7,000,000 tons. of fuel, out of about 20 needed in the country.